This book goes far beyond the 'immigrant' story, it delves into family pressures and expectations.
Our main character, Manuel Rebelo is expected to live his life according to the demands of his domineering mother. As a young adult he realizes that he needs to escape his tiny, Portuguese village and seek a new beginning in Canada. He has a variety of experiences from the time he is rescued from certain drowning by a fisherman.
It seems to be that the tenor of his life changes greatly when he returns to the old village to marry the woman chosen for him. When she doesn't want to immigrate, he chooses Georgina, who is more than happy to leave with him. It is this marriage that destroys his mother's plans for her son. As I was reading, it felt as though a heavy weight had been added to Manuel's shoulders, and he carried that for the rest of his life.
When Manuel returns to the old village shortly before his mother's death, he brings his family with him. It was not a positive experience for any of them. His life seems to have taken a downward turn from which he never recovers. Perhaps it was at this point that Manuel realized that he hadn't fulfilled his dreams.
The balance of the story is now told by his son Antonio. I like this boy. He is approximately my age and since I grew up not all that far from Toronto , and in a neighbourhood largely populated by immigrants, I felt a kinship with him. I wish that Antonio has been able to share his father's Canada Day celebrations. Manuel was so proud of his chosen country, yet his family couldn't see that.
The final scene in the book is set in Niagara Falls. Like Manuel, every time I visit there, I stand in wonder at the awesome power of the Falls. Even though I have been there dozens of times, it never loses its ability to enthrall me.
Anthony De Sa's website.
Thanks to Booklounge.ca for the photo.
Monica's review at Monniblog
Kailana's review at The Written Word
Claire's review at Kiss a Cloud